At the moment of parasitization by another insect, the host Heliothis larva is able to defend itself by the activation of humoral and cellular defenses characterized by unusual reactions of hemocytes in response to external stimuli. Here, we have combined light and electron microscopy, staining reactions, and immunocytochemical characterization to analyze the activation and deactivation of one of the most important immune responses involved in invertebrates defense, i.e., melanin production and deposition. The insect host/parasitoid system is a good model to study these events. The activated granulocytes of the host insect are a major repository of amyloid fibrils forming a lattice in the cell. Subsequently, the exocytosed amyloid lattice constitutes the template for melanin deposition in the hemocel. Furthermore, cross-talk between immune and neuroendocrine systems mediated by hormones, cytokines, and neuromodulators with the activation of stress-sensoring circuits to produce and release molecules such as adrenocorticotropin hormone, alpha melanocyte-stimulating hormone, and neutral endopeptidase occurs. Thus, parasitization promotes massive morphological and physiological modifications in the host insect hemocytes and mimics general stress conditions in which phenomena such as amyloid fibril formation, melanin polymerization, pro-inflammatory cytokine production, and activation of the adrenocorticotropin hormone system occur. These events observed in invertebrates are also reported in the literature for vertebrates, suggesting that this network of mechanisms and responses is maintained throughout evolution.
The main actors involved in parasitization of Heliothis virescens larva / Grimaldi, A; Tettamanti, G; Congiu, T; Girardello, R; Malagoli, Davide; Falabella, P; Valvassori, R; Ottaviani, Enzo; de Eguileor, M.. - In: CELL AND TISSUE RESEARCH. - ISSN 0302-766X. - STAMPA. - 350:(2012), pp. 491-502. [10.1007/s00441-012-1503-8]